The Constrastive Use of Humor by a Lesbian Comedian for LGBT and General Audiences

Corinne A. Seals


Though various ethnicities, religions, and political groups have been discussed in the linguistic and anthropological literature, there remains a gap when it comes to the discussion of how the LGBT community uses humor. In 1905, Freud expanded the limited study of humor when he wrote the first critical discussion of humor from the margins. Since then, scholars have conducted linguistic, psychological, and anthropological analyses of stereotypes and the responsive use of humor by marginalized groups. However, a gap when it comes to humor and sexuality remains. Thus, the current article uses the theories of intertextuality, indexicality, and audience design to contrastively analyze a case study of how a lesbian comedian uses humor in two settings.  First, an analysis is presented of how humor functions when used for a known LGBT friendly audience.  This is then contrasted with a discourse analysis of how humor is used when the same lesbian comedian performs for a general (i.e. not explicitly LGBT) audience. This article provides insight into how intertextuality and audience design can be useful tools for LGBT performance when used in a ‘safe space’ versus a general arena. More broadly, this research expands studies of humor to include marginalized sexual identities.

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